Tributes paid to organic farming campaigner Lord Peter Melchett

Tributes are being paid to organic farming campaigner and Soil Association policy director Lord Peter Melchett, who has died aged 71.

The Norfolk farmer and Labour peer – who served as a minister in the Wilson and Callaghan governments during the 1970s – was a veteran activist.

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After leaving politics, he was appointed to the board of Greenpeace UK in 1985, becoming its executive director in 1989.

A vociferous opponent of genetic modification, Lord Melchett was arrested in 1999 when he was among 28 protestors who cut down and removed a GM crop trial in Norfolk.

He spent two nights in custody before being released on bail. All 28 protestors were acquitted of theft and criminal damage when the case came to court in 2000.

Policy director at the Soil Association since 2002, Lord Melchett led numerous campaigns while also being managing director of his family’s 360ha farm at Ringstead, near Hunstanton in Norfolk.

These included successfully lobbying for government support for organic farmers – and the association’s ongoing campaign against glyphosate.

The Soil Association said he was a true campaigner who would be widely missed.

Fellow environmentalist and former Friends of the Earth director Jonathan Porrit was among those to pay tribute on social media.

MP Zac Goldsmith said Lord Melchett would be hugely missed.

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, described Lord Melchett as a tireless campaigner.

“His work with the Soil Association helped establish its international reputation as the leading body on organic farming principles.

“By pushing for the highest possible standards of animal welfare and environmental and wildlife protection his life’s work will stand the test of time.”

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